Let’s be honest, the biggest challenge I have feeding my children is they don’t want to eat what I cook. And not because I’m a bad cook. In fact (you may not know this about me), but I attended culinary school and worked as a personal chef for some time; so really my kids are just completely spoiled rotten and ungrateful. But I love them more than life itself. And I still wake up every day and think of what I want to cook and what they will want to eat; then I make sure it is a balanced meal with vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates. I think about variety and hope at least 2 out of 3 children won’t complain that they don’t like rice, or that it’s too spicy, or why isn’t it macaroni and cheese?
I stress about how I will find time in my busy schedule between dropping one kid at soccer, answering emails, picking up another kid from band practice, and answering the phone call from my poor mom who just wants five minutes of my time, to actually have the time in my kitchen to prepare the planned meal.
Then I work my magic and start cooking…dreading along the way the moment the sharks (I mean kids) start circling the kitchen impatiently asking: “When is dinner going to be ready?” Even more dreaded is the question, “What are you cooking?” which is 4 out of 5 times followed with, “Ugh I don’t like potatoes,” or, “Can’t we just eat out?” or (in my house), “Why are you cooking Kenyan food again?” I take a deep breath and (most of the time) repress my rage that they are so spoiled, and tell them, “This is what I cooked, and I think you will like it, and no we don’t need to spend money to eat out when we have a kitchen full of food already.”
The kids sit down and sometimes I get a blessing from God and no one complains (like on taco night), but most of the time they force me into the role of nagging mom, coercing them to eat most of their dinner before they can run off to do homework…. just kidding, I mean play PlayStation or Roblox (just being real here).
I get up from eating my delicious meal that I totally enjoyed, find my way to the couch, and finish my day the same way mothers across this nation finish their days….wondering, ” Will these kids will ever appreciate anything I do?”
But there is a solution to this age-old question: We as mothers can band together and fight this age-old battle. Every time your kid complains about what they are eating, or refuses to eat what you have cooked, you can put a dollar aside to feed a child who I can guarantee will appreciate it. A child like 5-year-old, Pauline, whose grandmother has to chose each day how she will dole out the limited food to the 12 people living in her one-room rented house. If your family is anything like mine, you will find the $35 per month to sponsor Pauline will be spent in a week, or even days, in your own home!
Pauline lives in Umoja 3, one of the urban slums of Nairobi, where I work. And sweet Pauline makes the abundance of my suburban Colorado life even harder for me to accept. I also have a life in Nairobi, Kenya, where I work advocating for children and families to have a chance at a better life. Children and families struggling in some of the harshest conditions you can imagine. Where school, clothes, and food are hoped for, but not guaranteed. My job is my pride and joy; it’s my grounding and awakening to the beauty and suffering of the world, and it makes it even harder for me to swallow the privilege of our society and even of my own offspring.
How quickly we all become accustomed to the abundance in this country, and especially in an upper-middle-class suburb. The question is not, will I get to eat today, but should I bother eating what’s available or wait for something better that will be available and to my liking? My children have no sense of what it feels like to go without meals. And as a parent, I have no sense of what it feels like to welcome your child home from school and not have any food to give them. My children don’t know what it feels like to sit in a classroom and not be able to concentrate on the lesson because they have an empty stomach, or because they are worried about how their younger brother or sister will be able to eat.
I just returned from Kenya where I met with three families living in the slums. Just like you and me, they love their children. Just like our kids, the children want to play and go to school and see their parents happy. But for these families, their daily struggle is not what to cook for their child; it is, will there be any food to cook? Even though I have witnessed this reality of life in the impoverished communities of Kenya for years, I personally cannot imagine what it must feel like on a daily basis for these parents and their children. And I personally cannot meet these families and return home and pretend to not know what I know, to not feel the pain of seeing these children suffer.
But the amazing blessing of being born in a country with abundance, is the gift of being able to imagine a better life, and I can imagine a way to ease their burden and give these families a better life. And that imagination has created a new program at Light Up Hope, our LIFT Program.
So far we have identified 30 families which we believe are in the most need and who have the best potential for intervention.
We have started the school year with school fees paid, new school uniforms, and supplies for the 30 children in our program, across three communities.
- We also want to guarantee these children have food every day…
- We also want to be able to provide health insurance for each child…
- We also want to begin to build parent support groups to strengthen the families and create income-generating projects…
But we need your help to make these wishes, reality! We are looking for a minimum of 30 families to sacrifice just $35/month to help a family in rural or urban Kenya.
To all the mothers out there struggling with beloved (but rotten) children like mine, will you band together with me, ladies? We can help these moms. We can ease their burden. We can make sure our hard-earned money goes to feed children who will smile when they see food on their plates.
And then, stay strong in the kitchen ladies: My mother tells me one day these spoiled rotten children WILL move out and decide maybe they had it good back home with dear old mom cooking dinner every night. On that day, ladies, I am going to smile, pour myself a glass of wine, and order take out!